Good news for motorists who want to get to Buffalo Lake a bit more quickly: the County of Stettler council approved hiking the speed limit on a popular and busy gravel road to 60 km/hr. The decision was made at the June 14 regular meeting of council.
Councillors heard a report from Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Yvette Cassidy and Manager of Municipal Services Andrew Brysiuk about the public’s request to have the speed limit on Range Road (RR) 21-2 increased from 50 km/hr.
“Several requests were made at the Buffalo Lake public engagement session for council to review the speed limit on RR 21-2,” stated the staff memo.
Cassidy stated county staff heard several of these comments at the community consultation that was held at Ol’ Macdonald’s resort a few weeks ago.
Brysiuk stated councillors had a number of options, including leaving the speed limit the way it is at 50 km/hr., bump the speed limit up to 60 km/hr. or more, or have county staff conduct a study on 21-2’s speed limit issues.
Brysiuk reviewed the recent history of RR 21-2, a popular road that accesses not only the Ol’ Macdonald’s resort but Buffalo Lake in general. He noted several years ago the road was returned to gravel with the road also having a development permit issued and heavy loads expected. The speed limit was also lowered.
Coun. James Nibourg asked about the development permit issued in that neighbourhood, and the CAO responded nothing was ever done with it and it must be very close to expiring.
Reeve Larry Clarke stated it seems since the road was dropped to 50 km/hr. the county has received fewer complaints about its condition.
Coun. Dave Grover stated he felt the speed limit was lowered to prevent damage to the road and was in favour of leaving it at 50 km/hr. for the same purpose.
Coun. Justin Stevens stated he felt the biggest concern about RR 21-2 isn’t speed, it’s traffic volume, and that traffic volume, not high speeds, is what’s causing damage to the road.
Nibourg responded that he recalled dust problems on 21-2 as being among the major factors for reducing the speed limit to 50 km/hr.
Reeve Clarke noted he and Coun. Ernie Gendre went out in person to 21-2 during a speed control project and watched the traffic and felt motorists pulling recreational vehicles (RVs) who were perhaps not as experienced as other motorists might have been part of the issue too.
The CAO chipped in she thought another issue is that 21-2 doesn’t hold up to the use placed on it.
Gendre added that if the speed limit is increased motorists tend to drive a bit faster than the limit, which is something the county should keep in mind.
Coun. Stevens responded most RV users don’t speed on gravel roads because they tend not to have enough experience driving on gravel roads.
Reeve Clarke disputed that statement, noting again he was at the speed control project where flashing signs were in use on 21-2 when it was gravel and saw RV users speeding regularly.
Coun. Grover added that the lower speed limit helps in more ways than one. “Maybe they learn to drive if they drive a little slower,” said Grover.
Coun. Les Stulberg stated he didn’t have a problem with bumping the speed limit up a bit as 50 km/hr. seemed a bit slow.
Councillors approved by a 5 to 2 vote to increase RR 21-2’s speed limit to 60 km/hr., with councillors Grover and Paul McKay opposed.
By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Jun 22, 2023